The Value of a Web Developer

Posted on
July 26, 2013

James Somers asks if coders are worth it. Well, I’d like to answer that.

I may have missed the point of the article, but he seems to be drawing attention to web developers making good money while working for web startups, which aren’t serious business. Serious, in the sense that the problems being solved aren’t grand or meaningful enough.

A lot of the stuff going on just isn’t very ambitious.

Some web developers work on problems that fail, or don’t evoke passion. But their work shouldn’t affect the value of all web developers, or current salary trends. Well, unless you want it to.

A short story

A couple of years ago I had an empty feeling from the low valuation of the work I did. I felt I had this practical skill – which by the way, I did sit in the basement of my moms house to foster – where I was paid good money (especially for a community-college dropout) to do some stuff for people or businesses that I did not gain satisfaction from. Which left only the monetary gains as the measurement of value of what I was doing.

So I did something about it. I reached a point as a freelancer that I could start turning down work. And instead of evaluating potential work based on the monetary gains, I started seeking out companies that were doing something big—something that I could garner some passion for.

And, we’re not all passionate about the same things. So we can’t really evaluate the whole industry of web developers without knowing what each person is passionate about.

What are you passionate about?

For me, I have a few passions, though they all potentially stem from the same source. But, what’s interesting (for this blog post at least) is that web development is not one of them. For me, web development is a practical skill — one that I enjoy immensely and still do as an unpaid hobby outside of my job, but not a passion.

I needed to satisfy my empty feeling. And that’s what I set out to do. I picked clients and industries more aligned to my passions. James Somers (at least the one portrayed in the article), could do the same. He could take his practical skill as a web developer and apply it to businesses and clients in the writing/publishing industry. It’s not a perfect solution, but things take time, and incremental improvements should not be overlooked.

As skilled web developers, you decide your own worth. Measure it how you want, just remember—like much of life—money isn’t everything.